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County awards Triage Center contract


“This really is a day to celebrate,” Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Director Jamie Michael said Tuesday morning, Aug. 4., after the county commission voted to approve a contract to license and operate the county’s Crisis Triage Center (CTC).

“Without a doubt, we are moving in the right direction,” Michael said. “People in our community are going to get the services that they deserve. Now we have some heavy lifting to do, but we are definitely up to the challenge.”

The contract is with Recovery Innovations International (RI), a Phoenix-based nonprofit that offers behavioral health services in crisis, health, recovery and consulting, according to www.riinternational.com/.

The commission approved the contract by a vote of 4-1, with Commission Chair Lynn Ellins, Vice Chair Manuel Sanchez and members Isabella Solis and Ramon Gonzalez voting yes and Commissioner Shannon Reynolds voting no.

The contract is for eight years and is renewable by the commission annually, Michael said. It provides payment to RI of $263,000 from the beginning of the contract through June 30, 2021. Much of that time will be spent getting state licensing for the facility and its staff, as well as establishing a Medicaid reimbursement rate, Michael said.

CTC will operate on a “no wrong-door path,” Michael said, which means individuals can show up at the facility to receive services, and no one will be turned away.

She said the contact with RI mandates that at least 50 percent of CTC hires be local.

“We’re looking for people who are bilingual, who are familiar with the community,” Michael said.

She said the contract also provides for a CTC community-based advisory group.

RI operates 12 other facilities similar to the triage center, Michael said.

RI contracted with the county in February to produce a business plan to operate the CTC, which was “designed to provide a 23-hour safe and secure environment for individuals with serious mental health illness introduced into the system through protective custody by law enforcement officials,” according to the business plan, which was submitted to the county June 1.

The plan provides guidance to the county on the operation of the triage center “as an integrated component of a behavioral health system that reduces the inefficient use of law enforcement, emergency room and detention facilities for individuals with severe mental health disorders.”

 Michael said the county has worked with several management companies since the triage center was built in 2013 but none of the contracts proved viable.

See RI’s CTC business plan at www.donaanacounty.org/health/crisis.